Book

Christiaan Weijts

Art. 285b

The oppressive perspective of the stalker

In Christiaan Weijts’s debut novel, love evolves into an obsession. When his girlfriend Victoria Fabers terminates their relationship, Sebastiaan Steijn, the main character in the book, inundates her with telephone calls, sms messages, and e-mails. The stalker justifies his conduct in the novel, but the issue of whether or not he can refute the accusation still remains. The striking feature of Weijts’s novel is the perspective through which readers view the events. They see the situation only through the eyes of the stalker - and only gradually experience growing distaste.

Sebastiaan earns his living as a piano teacher in his place of residence, Leiden, and also plays as a background pianist in an Amsterdam pizzeria. The fact that he leads two lives is also demonstrated by the fact that he visits prostitutes and peep shows in Amsterdam. He becomes acquainted with Victoria in one of the striptease joints, where she works to support her study at a dance academy. Sebastiaan becomes enchanted by this impulsive, elusive and licentious performer who alternately attracts and repels him, without ever giving herself to him completely. At the same time, he begins a fleeting relationship, which is doomed from the outset, with his sixteen-year-old pupil Rosetta. With her, he devotes his energy to the sonatas of the composer Domenico Scarlatti, whom he admires greatly.

When Rosetta ends their affair, Sebastiaan’s obsession for Victoria takes over. The stream of sms messages, e-mails, and telephone calls with which he bombards her eventually forces her to lodge a complaint for stalking, referring to the article in the Dutch Penal Code.

Besides a pure defence of Sebastiaan’s actions, the novel also presents a sharp picture of the times. Weijts sketches a portrait of a generation that can no longer cope with an unprecedented amount of freedom, a generation for which the differences between art and porn, passion and lust, truth and fiction have no significance whatsoever, and which can only find meaningful engagement in limit-stretching behaviour. In that context, stalking is primarily a metaphor for a libertine generation that, although it seeks love, is only capable of pursuing it in vain. Weijts has articulated this doubt and desperation perfectly in his debut novel.

In his virtuoso debut novel, Christiaan Weijts constructs a cathedral of sound and pain.

Vrij Nederland

An extremely good novel, written with a self-confidence and élan that one seldom finds in a debutant. Grunberg was the last. A book to reread and to debate on.

De Morgen

Colourful and sonorous debut.

De Volkskrant

In the sixth year of the third millennium, a Dutch novel that could only have been written in the 21st century has ultimately appeared.

NRC Handelsblad

Translations

Christiaan Weijts

In his earliest work Christiaan Weijts (b. 1976) demonstrated extraordinary talent. The much-praised novels Article 285b (2006) and Via Cappello 23 (2008) are proof that he is capable of melding high and low, the exalted and the earthly in a single story. His sentences fly past, his narrative tone…

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Details

Art. 285b (2006). Fiction, 325 pages.

Themes: debut

Sample translation

English (PDF document)

Publisher

De Arbeiderspers

Spui 10
NL - 1012 WZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 760 72 10

E-mail:
j.spooren@singeluitgeverijen.…
Website:
http://www.arbeiderspers.nl

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